Silence

 

“Remember, before you speak, it is necessary to listen,” Mother Theresa

Tape Face

Arguments. Gossip. Hostility. Name-calling. Contempt. All this occurs in an atmosphere of wanting to be right, of not listening, of refusing to be slow enough to speak in order that we hear and learn. This kind of talking does nothing but stroke our own ego.

He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.” (Matthew 15:11)

How can we, in a climate of division and mistrust, practice the skill of taking a step back in order to arrive at a willingness to listen? And not just listen to form a reply, but listen with the intent of understanding.

This kind of listening accomplishes several things.

  1. It helps us widen our own narrow perception of reality
  2. It helps us form relationships
  3. It helps us understand the experiences, history and hurts of other people
  4. If we are Christians, it helps unify us with our brothers and sisters in Christ
  5. It allows us to hear the voice of God through the Holy Spirit

Of course, we must desire to step back from anger, practice thinking before speaking, prefer to find common ground, and aspire to approach people with openness and compassion. If we don’t, then we simply choose to reject, condemn and despise.

As we stay silent and think – seriously consider our words before we speak, weigh the consequences of our words on others, take time to evaluate the words of others, and reflect on how words that float on social media have an effect on you and the children you know – we begin to form conclusions driven by more than our momentary and sometimes incendiary reactions to an event.

We are able to respond in a way that includes listening to understand.

So faith comes from hearing the message, and the message heard is what Christ spoke. (Romans 10:17)

We are able and willing to widen our perspective to see another point of view. We are able and willing to have compassion for the experiences of people unlike ourselves. We are able and willing to seek common ground and thus solutions, instead of blame. We are able and willing to find unity with our brothers and sisters in Christ. And finally, we are able and willing to hear the blessing of God’s voice.

“In silence we will find new energy and true unity. Unity is the fruit of prayer, of humility, of love…We cannot find God in noise or agitation… In silence He listens to us; in silence He speaks to our souls. In silence we are granted the privilege of listening to His voice.” Mother Teresa

 

Mother Teresa quotes from No Greater Love, ©1997, New World Library, MJF Books, NY, NY

Women Saving Lives

How Working With Each Other

Instead of Against Each Other

Can Save Lives

Because what we’ve done so far hasn’t succeeded

Imagine this scene:

child in traffic.1

A two-year old wanders onto a busy, traffic-laden street, trips and falls. The mother is crying, trying to get to her child, but for some reason, cannot. You have two options:

  • Make a sign with “Murderer” written on it and shout at the mother about how important it is to save her child’s life. Post on Facebook about irresponsible mothers who allow their children to wander into traffic. Write your Senator about how it should be illegal to allow children to wander into traffic.

OR

  • Run into the street to save the child and return her safely to her mother.

Now imagine this scene:

UltraSound

A woman enters a reproductive clinic (Planned Parenthood or otherwise). She is pregnant, confused and afraid. You don’t know her story – yet. She desperately needs comfort, compassion and information. She does not want to have an abortion, but she sees no other options.

Inside the clinic, there is a bright and comfortable waiting room. There are colorful photos of children playing and even some of children in utero. There is a team of professionals who provide safe health and human care:

Prenatal checkups

Counseling services for women who request them

Social services providing coupons for food, diapers, maternity and baby clothes

Volunteer services for driving, birthing coaches and “grandmas” for handholding, babysitting and after birth support visits

Adoption information and services

And yes, doctors who perform abortions for those horrific situations that occur when abortion becomes the treatment agreed upon between a woman, her doctor and her counselor

The Outliers: Clinic Bombers and Contraceptive Abortion

Before we continue to demonize each other, let’s face facts. Those who are guilty of or approve of bombing abortion clinics or killing doctors who perform abortions are outliers – they are the few crazies at the edges of the Pro Life movement who need to be locked up.

At the same time, women who used abortion as contraception and could not care less about the lives growing inside them are also outliers – they are few and far between and need serious education. Most women who choose to have an abortion never make the decision lightly, and are haunted by it for years.

For those of you who are pro-life: according to an article in Christianity Today (Feb 2015), 70% of women who have had abortions identify as Christians; 50% identify as Evangelicals. Where is the compassion and grace? The resources and energy it takes to picket or make signs, craft legislation or research doctors could go toward reaching out and helping women who, for the most part, really don’t want to end their child’s life.

These same resources and energy can go toward getting to know a woman, asking how you can help her, showing her love and compassion instead of pushing her away, and scaring her into a decision she didn’t want to make in the first place.

For those of you who are pro-choice: the resources and energy it takes to vilify the Christian women who oppose you could be spent in simply admitting you have the very same beliefs. You could begin to embrace Christian women who have already had abortions and are consumed by guilt and shame. You can offer outreach and specialized counseling services like Silent No More.

Serena Williams handshake

Instead of continuing to demonize each other, let’s get to know each other, help one another, reach out to a sister one-on-one. Why?

Because we have allowed this ideological net to divide us.

Because we have allowed it to prevent us from finding common ground.

Because ultimately, our goals are the same.

Because we are still not saving lives.

We both want to reduce the number of abortions. We both want to provide safe health care for women. We both want to educate women. We both want to reduce unwanted pregnancies BEFORE CONCEPTION. And this can only be accomplished if we stop fighting each other.

It’s long past time to work together. We all have a vested interest in our daughters’ lives.

Could we begin today?

 

Thank you to Jim Voigt on Facebook for the inspiration for this post